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VETERAN TRICKLE EARNS FOURTH-PLACE FINISH

By JOHN ERZAR; Times Leader Sports Writer

Monday, May 20, 1996     Page:

NAZARETH -- Dick Trickle knew it would take time to get his Dura-Lube Chevrolet to where he wanted it. Some minor adjustments nearly brought the Winston Cup veteran to the head of the NASCAR Busch Series CoreStates/Meridian Advantage 200 Sunday afternoon at Nazareth Speedway.
    Trickle, who didn't practice or qualify the car for the event, worked from the rear of the 42-car field to take a fourth place, his best finish this year.
    The Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., native made a final attempt for third with two laps left, trying to dip under Jeff Green on the frontstretch.
    Still, it was quite a finish considering the adverse conditions he had to overcome.
    "What happened was that Tom Peck came in and practiced and qualify the car," said Trickle, who could do neither since he was involved in the Winston Select at Charlotte Saturday night. "He told me that he thought it was going to be a little tight.
    "Sure enough, it was."
    That didn't stop Trickle, who had to drop to the rear of the field for the start of the race since he didn't qualify the car. Peck had qualified the car 29th, and spent the afternoon spotting for Trickle. He secured his fourth-place finish by passing Jason Keller on lap 183.
    The tightness nearly cost Trickle early. By lap 15 of the 200-lap race, leader David Green was bearing down on the 54-year-old veteran, Two laps later, Green was on the bumper of Trickle when Elliott Sadler hit the turn two wall, bringing out the first of 10 caution periods.
    That allowed Trickle to make a pit stop, make a chasis adjustment, but more importantly, stay on the lead lap.
    "We came in a couple times in the early part of the race and kept going to the rear just to get the car in a rythmn," Trickle said.
    Still, Trickle fell a lap behind about a quarter way through the race, but quickly got back on the lead lap.
    The fourth caution on lap 125 collected then third-place Hermie Sadler, moving Trickle to eight.
    "I liked it because it tightened up the field," Trickle said. "My car was better during green, so it was a trade off."
    Trickle demonstrated that during a caution-free period from lap 143 to 173. After failing back to ninth, he picked off Chad Little for eighth, then two laps later, overtook Larry Pearson for seventh.
    Trickle then got past Todd Bodine and Kevin Lapage, moving to fifth before a spin by Toshio Suzuki brought out the afternoon's ninth caution.
    * * *
    NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Seven Busch Series North Division drivers raced Saturday, and only one, Mike Stefanik, finished on the lead lap. Stefanik, who qualified 16th, finished 14th.
    Mike Olson was the only other one to be around at the end of the race, finishing 21st and a lap down.
    Accidents ended the day early for Tom Boules (28th), Kelly Moore (31st), Dale Shaw (39th), and Ted Christopher (41st). Jamie Aube retired for the day after 93 laps due to handling problems and finished 39th.
    * * *
    LITTLE PROBLEM: Chad Little ran as high as fourth until handling problems forced him to settle for an 11th-place finish.
    "Our car was too tight at the start of the race and, although we loosened it up some during the pit stop, it was still hard to turn coming out of the corners," said Little, who drives for a team owned by St. Louis Rams quarterback Mark Rypien.
    Little wasn't the only driver who suffered back luck.
    Mike McLaughlin was running third when a flat tire on lap 94 forced him to pit. The flat also caused suspension problems and McLaughlin had to settle for a 29th-place finish.
    "We had a good car, but no results," McLaughlin said. "The tire blew -- I don't know if I ran over something or not -- and we had to pit under green.
    "We caught a break when the yellow came out right after that and we thought we were set, but then the sway bar broke."
    Hermie Sadler also ran in the top four for most of the day until getting involved in a crash on lap 124. He finished 30th.
    "We were taking our time working our way to the front, and now we've got nothing to show for it," Sadler said. "I try to show respect for other drivers when I'm not running good. Unfortunately, not everybody feels the same way."
    Jeff Fuller, last season's Busch rookie of the year, continued to struggle. Engine problems sidelined Fuller after 26 laps. Through nine races, Fuller has finished 24th or worst six times.
    * * *
    ROUGH DEBUT: Toshio Suzuki, of Saitama, Japan, made his first-ever start in the Busch Series, and ended up at Easton Hospital with a head injury after a crash on lap 171.
    Suzuki, a former winner of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, spun and ripped off the left front tire on his Mooneyes Chevrolet. It was his second crash of the race after needing a provisional to get into the field.
    TIMES LEADER/BOB ESPOSITO
    Shane Hall, No. 85, is turned backwards coming out of turn five and is narrowly missed by Dennis Seitzer, No. 38, in Sunday's CoreStates/Meridian Advantage 200 Busch Series Race at the Nazareth Speedway.
   
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